Amateur arts and folk culture
The amateur arts in Georgia are divided into two groups: a) folklore and b) all other art-forms. There is a strong affection among the population for folk songs and dances in which Georgians hold great pride. Folk ensembles, in particular, of vocalists, are plentiful throughout Georgia. The culture of preservation, study and development of folklore in Georgia has been raised to the professional level. Moreover, the Georgian vocal polyphony of folksongs and chorals is regarded as important at the international level. Consequently, many villages and towns have their own folk ensembles, which reflects the diversity of Georgian music folklore and, on the other hand, supports continued interest in the training of young people in this field. Large ensembles often have groups for young people where the future generations of singers are encouraged. Folklore ensembles are also popular among the national minorities.
The crafts sector is not as widely developed. In comparison with the performing arts, the craft field requires special programmes of support for preservation and maintenance. This is especially important against the background of the critical socio-economic situation in the countryside where ceramics, carpet weaving, embroidery etc. are practiced.
All other types of amateur arts are less popular than folklore and are mainly urban based (e.g. people’s theatre and fine arts). Recently groups for teenagers in large cities have become more involved in modern genres of amateur art related to new technologies and social development – multimedia, graffiti, e-music. This subculture has yet been developed does not receive state support, though some municipal initiatives related to mass culture are touching on this type of amateur art, although only in the performing arts sector.
After the Rose Revolution, the interest of the state in folklore has increased greatly, whereby many projects in this sphere are organised and funded. The most significant are: the International Folklore Festival “Chveneburi”, ART GENE, and the Presidential Programme “National Voice”.
Local cultures in a globalising world are facing certain risks. In Georgia, however, there are very strong traditions of ethnographic and folk culture, resulting in a high percentage of people who develop folklore, both on an amateur and professional level. The government support in this area is high and is being implemented through the National Folklore Centre.
In 2004, a State Folklore Centre was created as a legal entity of public law under the ministry of Culture and Cultural Heritage. The Centre is commissioned with and devoted to restoration and demonstration of the present vital ethno culture and life. The main mission of the Centre is to research, preserve, develop and popularise the non-material cultural heritage. The Centre implements the state folklore policy nationwide and promotes the restoration of broken ties between the villages, regions, districts and the central authorities.
The archive of the State Folklore Centre has been created (the notes of songs and chants, samples of oral folk arts, folk plays, manuscripts of famous scientists and ethnic music experts, biographies and photos of well-known conductors and singers, albums of photos of festivals and fests have been registered and stocked) a small part of which has been published and the greater part is being processed.
Since 2006, the presidential national programme for folklore promotion has been implemented with the following goals:
- to maintain folk art in Georgia, to restore its ancient roots;
- establishment, protection and popularisation of folk art authenticity;
- studying, collecting and recording of musical traditions in regions and scientific research of the musical repertoire. Creation of the archive material of the 21st century on the basis of the researched materials;
- display of the unknown samples of folk art, awakening interests in folk creativity in the youth and popularisation of folk verses;
- promotion of traditional crafts; and
- promotion of the national cultural treasury to foreign audiences and Georgian diaspora.
For systematisation and quality enhancement of the folklore activity in Georgia, a study of the creative level of active folk collectives and the creation of a database has been commenced in 2011 – “Certification of Folklore Ensembles”.
Certification will promote the folklore ensembles to search for state support.
In the framework of the programme, the following activities have been implemented:
- study of folklore samples
In 2007, in the framework of the project “Mobile Voice Recording Studio and Video Studio” in the regions of Georgia, up to 500 unique samples of ancient folklore was recorded. The mobile voice recording studio, which is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment, continues its research work of recording, restoration and popularisation of unknown samples of folklore;
In the framework of the electronic version of the self-teaching guide of Georgian folk song in 2007, the studio recording of Georgian folk songs was produced. It also involved the release of a self-teaching guide on DVD for teaching polyphonic singing.
In the framework of the project of releasing a DVD of unique choreographic materials, a DVD of authentic folk dances showing performances by song and dance ensembles and individual performers of the past century was recorded. The DVD is directed at choreographers, choreologists and dancers.
The project “Computerisation of Archive Records and Georgian Collection of Wax Cylinders” was implemented in 2007-2009 and provided the transfer of unique Georgian folk song stored in the record library of the National Central Archive of Georgia to digital format.
- Folklore expeditions
The project “Folklore Expeditions in Regions of Georgia and In Artvin Region of the Republic of Turkey” was implemented in 2007-2010 and aimed at the search, storage, study and popularisation of unknown folklore materials in the regions.
In the framework of the project, the folklore expeditions were conducted in Ajara, Zemo Svaneti, Kakheti, Guria and Artvin Region. The mobile voice recording studio operated in the regions of Georgia and the small group of Georgianaliving in Artvin (Turkey) have recorded the folk music samples, searched and restored the lost folk songs and introduced them to various folklore collectives.
- Evenings with…
In the framework of the project “Evenings with …” in 2006-2010, at Tbilisi Central Concert Hall, a jubilee concert was held, devoted to the 125th anniversary of the National Folk Song and Dance Ensemble of Georgia “Erisioni”; the city of Batumi hosted concerts of I. Sukhishvili and N. Ramishvili Georgian National Ballet company; and evenings devoted to the creative work of the oldest representatives of folk poetry and folklore Islam Pilpani, Polikarpe Khubulaba, Andro Simashvili and in memory of MAro Tarkhnishvili.
- Promotion and rewarding of folklore artists
Since 2008 a yearly ceremony is held to award the winners of the National Folklore Reward. The Commission for granting the national folklore reward was created at the National Folklore Centre of Georgia, which determines the fields and priorities. The winners receive money, awards and diplomas.
The festival – “Art-Gen” is held annually since 2003 and its main purpose is promoting samples of folklore and various old traditions, folk handicraft in the regions of our country and widening knowledge among the general public.
In the framework of the project for the study of the creative work of the folklore groups in the regions there have been expeditions, workshops and master-classes of applied art. The final event is held in Tbilisi.
- Educational projects:
Master classes for choreographers and Georgian folk song performers in 2007-2010 were led by famous choreographers and specialists of Georgian ethno music of Tbilisi State Conservatory. The educational booklet “Georgian Folk Song and Performance” was also produced.
Summer Schools of Folk Handicraft (2008-2010) aimed at popularisation of folk handicraft were also held.
In framework of a project in the Oni Region a two-month training programme was held on Georgian felt production.
In the six summer schools of folk handicraft, experienced masters taught young people the technologies related to folk handicraft: in Mestia region – woodcarving and Svan hat making, in Mtskheta and Sachkhere regions – Georgian felt preparation, in Akhaltsikhe region – Meskh carpet weaving, in Tserovani settlement the young refugees from Samachablo have learned woodcarving.
The state budget expenditures in the field of folklore amounted to:
In 2015 (fact) – 4,203,968 GEL; in 2016 (plan) – 3,970,000 GEL.
The staff employed in 5 legal entities of public law comprised 346 persons with the average salary of 797 GEL.
In 2016 the State Folklore Center carried out:
- The National Folklore Festival
- Representation in 15 municipalities and a choirmaster school
- 15 expeditions in Georgia, 1 expedition abroad
- Georgian Folk Song Festival “Nikozi 2015”
- “Svan Zari” – an element of intangible cultural heritage
- Folk poetry event “The Verse Not To Be Lost”
- Digitalization of 8000 traditional handwritten folk chorales
In 2016 four state folk ensembles (“Sukhishvilebi”, “Erisioni”, “Rustavi”, “Basiani”) conducted:
- 142 concerts
- 121 tours
- 345,150 viewers and listeners.
Cultural houses and community cultural clubs
Within the last 25 years the network of former cultural houses and clubs of the Soviet period has been trimmed down. In general, these centres of culture have been privatised and only a small number have preserved their main profile. Unfortunately no statistical data is available as these cultural houses and clubs were always under the control of the regional or municipal authorities, which provide no detailed reports on cultural data. Nevertheless, to some extent these cultural centres have been replaced with new associations and unions.